Friday, November 1, 2013

FORGIVENESS IS KEY TO VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING

by Aziza Uko

Jesus taught us to seek forgiveness from those who hold grudges against us (not just those people we offend). The Bible teaches that we should be at peace with all men. Christians should begin to make moves to establish peace with the people who hold grudges against them. Whoever does this begins to win his or her spiritual warfare and a burden is lifted off her and placed where it belongs, on Jesus Christ! And Jesus is able, more than willing, to mess up our enemies.

Where Jesus Christ instructed that we go seek forgiveness from those who BEAR GRUDGES against us:

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Where the Bible says we should make every effort to be at peace with all people.

Hebrew 12:14 (NIV)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Where the Bible lets us know that peace is a part of the FULL amour of God which we use to overcome the enemy in our spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Where the Bible makes it clear that we have to forgive everyone who offends us so that our own sins would be forgiven:

The LORD's Prayer (You may read it in full)
Matthew 6:12 (ISV)
... and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

Treating our enemies with kindness:
Romans 12:20
On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

God deals with our enemies:
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (NIV)
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.

Christians live by the Law of Jesus Christ and not the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses teaches retaliation and hating of enemies. Jesus Christ commands that his followers love their enemies, pray for their enemies, do good to those who do evil to them, and turn the other cheek.

The writers of the Book of Psalms were living under the Law of Moses, so they wrote what they wrote and prayed the way they prayed. But Christians live under the Law of Jesus Christ and an-eye-for-an-e
ye is not the Law of Jesus Christ.

Understandably, this is a hard teaching. Even Jesus Christ acknowledged that his teaching will be hard to accept. Nobody says it is easy, but that is the Word and it is the responsibility of Christian teachers to teach what Jesus taught and not what followers want to hear.

Even if you pick on one verse and try to argue it out with an interpretation that allows you to disobey God (eg the verse on settling with someone who holds a grudge against you), you can't escape the teaching of Jesus Christ on forgiveness, doing good to those who do you evil, returning good for evil, turning the other cheek, and loving and praying for your enemies. It is a body of teaching and not just one verse.

Sadly, many Christian leaders, especially in Nigeria, have put aside the teaching of Jesus Christ on this subject and articulated a massive disobedience to the Word of God by teaching their members to return 'fire for fire', back-to-sender, 'dangerous' prayers, and all what not. It is so sad because by so doing, they rob the church of the manifestation of its true power.

This is manifested when Christians tend to attack the right teaching on forgiveness, even when you present the very words of Jesus Christ to them, they still find it hard to accept that Christianity is about forgiveness.

Our power is limited when we walk in disobedience to God. Our power is limited when we try to do God's job. When we stop trying to help ourselves, and let go to God 100%, that is when we see the full glory of God in our lives. Heaven doesn't help those who help themselves, heaven helps those who trust in the King of Heaven 100%, those who know that their help, all of their help comes from the Throne of Grace.

So, no matter how unpopular the Word (sadly) is among Christians today, the Word will not change. I, Aziza Uko-Douglas, will not ever change the Word to suit public opinion. I am not and will never be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is it easy to do? Not at all. But, have I done it before. Yes. Did it hurt as I did it? Of course! Did my flesh resist it? Of course. Did the devil tell me I was reducing myself to apologise to people who wrecked my home, tried to kill (and were still trying), stole my money, tried to terminate my career, backstabbed me and more? Of course, he did.

But, thank God (and may he forever continue to bless him) for the man God brought into my life to lead me back onto the right path. It is not easy. But let me share what the Holy Spirit revealed to me, as I forgave everyone but one person.

This one person (not romantic) was someone I invested so much in, I spent over N3 million developing his career, even risking my own career for him. He maliciously walked out on my contract with him, owed me money and refused to pay and began to spread nasty rumours about me. I was pained, to say the least.

I forgave everyone else and reached out to them. But, I forgave him and did not reach out to him. Then one night, the Holy Spirit continually pushed his matter before me when I was praying. I tried to ignore it, he asked me to consider my future and all the great things I desire and imagine if holding out on this person who obviously didn't have bright future was worth not actualising my glorious destiny. Immediately, I repented. I reached for my phone and sent him a text asking him to forgive me because I am human and I am sure I must have offended him one way or more. He replied that all was well and I should pray for him. We have met a couple of times since.

Within 6 months, I recorded testimonies that continue to shake people who hear them. I met my husband, I began a new walk with God, I started a new career as a journalist, within 2 months, I was interviewing the President of my own country (the ultimate booking for a journalist) - no lobbying, nothing. One evening a call came that Mr President is ready to take your questions... I used to spend my own money travelling abroad, these days, I fly all expense paid by other people around the world. When I had my youngest child, the doctors thought I was not 'human' because by all medical accounts, my BP was out of this world (some of the equipment were not built to take my BP reading) I was supposed to be either dead or in coma/stroke but I was conscious, sitting, talking to them, even cracking jokes with them. All the nurses kept saying that everytime they see me, they see a miracle...

My life before I decided to accept God's Word as it was given and the life after is totally different. And I believe that by that singular act of obedience, I rewrote my story.

And guess what, God has not failed on doing His own work - which is to protect me, defend me, and take vengeance on my enemies. My duty is to forgive and do good to them, pray for their salvation, and turn the other cheek. God's job is to make sure they don't hurt me and dispense His righteous and speedy judgement on them. He is faithful.

All of this happened because someone insisted on not following the bandwagon and teaching the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he led me to that place where I said, "Lord, I will do whatever you said I should do, where ever it may lead."

My prayer is that all of God's children will get to such a place. 

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(c) 2013, Aziza Uko. This work is the original work of the author and copyrighted. It may not be reproduced in part or in whole in any form without the permission of the author and proper acknowledgement.

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